'The Voice' coach will.i.am used his style to escape gangs as a child.
The Black Eyed Peas singer - who has become synonymous with his space-age jackets on the BBC One talent show - admits his clothing helped him get away from the crime going on in the Boyle Heights neighbourhood of Los Angeles where he grew up, causing him to dress as "loudly" as he does now.
He said: "I grew up in a Mexican neighbourhood in Los Angeles and we were the only black family. There were a lot of gangs. A lot of my friends are dead, were in prison, on drugs or were selling drugs. That is how growing up was.
"You either joined the gang or you did arts or sports. My attire got me through, though. The louder you dressed, it became obvious that you were not in a gang.
"I took safety in dressing up so people knew me to be different from people in T-shirts and baggy pants."
Now spending much of his time in the UK while working on 'The Voice', he admits some people even think he is British.
He told The Sun newspaper: "I have been coming here since 1998. I am a regular here up to the point of going home back to America.
"But when I go home they ask, 'I thought you were from London by the way you dress and talk. I thought you were from some place in Europe or somewhere exotic or something."